|This poor girl's discomfort at being caricatured sadly turned|
her into an internet meme. That, and she got a lousy
|In an alternate universe . . .|
"Fat" versus "Curvy"So let's say you get a woman sitting for you who is nervous about her girth and mentions it to you, asking you to draw her skinny. There's a few ways to approach this problem. I have seen a spectrum of approaches, like one artist who grumpily told a woman "Look, if you're fat, I'm gonna draw you fat." He ended up not working at the booth long, as the woman took her fat butt right to mall management and complained. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, the eager-to-please artist that indeed, draws a glamorous female with no chins, cheeks, or arm fat, and feels like a sellout during the entire process but is resigned to the fact that the customer is the boss.
Lord knows I've gone wrong in my approach. My first year drawing caricatures at Excalibur, which favored a front-view style as opposed to all my years drawing profiles, I was indeed stymied by how to softly (or harshly) represent a chubby face that had no discernible chin line. I guess I was feeling particularly brave one night--this was probably right after a caricature convention--and decided to go rogue and not cut any corners when a portly gal sat for me. She had a chin that popped out of a flat wall of neck flesh due to her extra weight, and I just took a deep breath and drew it. I may have even exaggerated it. Straight lines from ear to shoulder, pretty much. Well, I turned it around, hoping for the best but expecting the worst, and she simply looked surprised for a moment, then paid me, and even chuckled a bit. Her friend, however, was quietly livid, and as they left she bent down and said angrily in my ear "I hope you know that that's going straight into the trash!" Well, all right then. A moment of regret, but it struck me that it wasn't the fat woman, but her friend, who was upset. And she had paid me, it was not rejected. As I said, fat people know they're fat.
As is my typical standby, I rely on humor these days to try and lighten the mood. I don't want to resort to slimming generic-cature, but I also don't want people getting angry every time I draw a double chin. Let's talk about words. They are important. First off, I try to banish the term "double chin" when talking to a customer, it's just a phrase so laden with hatred and ugliness--no sensitive female is going to take well to an artist saying "I'm going to include your double-chin,"but you can get away with saying "You have a soft chin, and I'm going to include that--if I put harsh angles there instead you would look like an anorexic or a bodybuilder." If someone says "make me skinnier!" as they sit down, I hold up the blank paper and say well, if you hold it this way (turning the paper at an angle) you can be as skinny as you want!
There are a huge array of words that mean fat but are nicer on the ears than "fat." I have worked a few into my repertoire: curvy, bodacious, zaftig, Ruebenesque, curvaceous, bountiful, and on and on. You can make up words as long as you say them with attitude and a friendly, even flirty way. A young lady who sits down and says "Don't draw me fat!" can suddenly giggle with delight and even shed a bit of self-consciousness if an artist responds with "Girl, don't even worry, you are boom-shaka-laka and I am going to do that justice!"
And then, by golly, do it justice. C
|She laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and then caught her breath,|
then laughed some more.
As a fat gal myself, I do have a few arrows in my quiver that not everyone can use. I have shared bits and pieces of what eventually has become this blog post with fat patrons as I drew them, and it has seemed like it made a difference in their thinking here and there. As a member of that club, sometimes I can talk more freely with them and not make them feel offended or picked on. When they ask for weight to be taken off, I can even jokingly say "Why? Are you telling me fat people aren't sexy???" and put on a look of feigned offense, and they laugh along with me.
|Whaaaa ha ha ha ha ha ho ho ho ho.|
|Fastest fat on the track.|